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Terry Gross and Bill O'Reilly: Round Two

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Sept. 21, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: About a year ago, I appeared on NPR's "Fresh Air" program, hosted by Terry Gross (search), to talk about my book, "Who's Looking Out for You," now out in paperback. The interview became very, very controversial.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

O'REILLY: We've spent now, all right, 50 minutes of me defending defamation against me in every possible way, while you gave Al Franken (search) a complete pass on his defamatory book. And if you think that's fair, Terry, then you need to get in another business. I'll tell you that right now. And I'll tell your listeners, if you have the courage to put this on the air, this is basically an unfair interview, designed to try to trap me into saying something that Harper's can use. And you know it and you should be ashamed of yourself. And that is the end of this interview.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'REILLY: That's the only interview in my whole life I've ever terminated. With us now is Terry Gross, the author of the book "All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists." Well, you can't say I didn't make you famous.

TERRY GROSS, "ALL I DID WAS ASK" AUTHOR: Well, Bill, I pledge that no matter what you ask me, I'm staying for the entire interview.

O'REILLY: OK, you're going to stay for the whole interview. That's good. Here's my problem with this interview. I thought that you were trying to make a name for yourself by quoting this defamation, which has been discredited at this point all up and down. And then, I read in your book — you don't have the interview in your book, per se, you don't put the transcripts — I'll let you tell the audience why. But you do write about it in the introduction.

And you say, "One of the issues I wanted to pursue with O'Reilly was whether he uses his Fox News program to settle scores with anybody who takes issues with him," on and on and on. And that's legitimate. I mean, that's legitimate. But what you don't have in your book is that you got scolded by your own ombudsman. Why didn't you just put that in the book? Why did you leave that out?

GROSS: Did I not mention that in the introduction?

O'REILLY: No.

GROSS: Well, I have no problem with the fact that he criticized the interview, because he thought...

O'REILLY: If you're going to set me up in your introduction as somebody which you have problems with, why wouldn't you put in your book that you were scolded by your own ombudsman? You left that out? Why did you leave it out?

GROSS: I don't know why I left it out.

O'REILLY: You don't know?

GROSS: The point, Bill, is that I think the interview was very fair. The ombudsman criticized it. That's fine. That's the ombudsman's job; to stand back and pass judgment on how things were done. He's an independent voice.

O'REILLY: Right.

GROSS: Does Fox News have an ombudsman?

O'REILLY: Yes. We have an ombudsman some place, I think.

GROSS: I don't think so.

O'REILLY: He's in the closet.

GROSS: Give me a call when you find him.

O'REILLY: But here's the deal. If you think we do something unfair, you're willing to...

GROSS: You want to know what's unfair, Bill? You've twice played just the part of the interview where you're accusing me of throwing every defamation...

O'REILLY: Yeah, being a terrible woman.

GROSS: Your listeners have never had a chance to actually...

O'REILLY: But that's not true. We've put the whole interview on our Web site...

GROSS: On your Web site. But the part...

O'REILLY: ... and gotten over a million hits.

GROSS: But the part you play on the air is just the part where you're scolding me for being unfair and that's all the listeners get to hear.

O'REILLY: Terry, we've got 30 seconds to play a clip. I put the entire interview on our Web site, as you know, got more than a million hits. You put it on the NPR Web site, I don't know how many hits you got — anybody that wanted to hear it heard it, and I'll stand by it.

GROSS: Yes.

O'REILLY: I don't think you're a bad person.

GROSS: I should hope.

O'REILLY: Yeah, well, I don't know you, but I've listened to your program and I've read your book now, looked at your book. I don't think you're a bad person, but I think you're the victim of a mindset, the NPR mindset, OK, where you look at guys like me as a barbarian and it's your job...

GROSS: Bill, look...

O'REILLY: ... to preach to your choir about how bad I am. Look, that interview, you know that wasn't about my book. That was about me.

GROSS: ... Bill, you pride yourself on being the toughest interviewer on TV.

O'REILLY: Yeah.

GROSS: When somebody declines coming on your show, you say that they're a coward...

O'REILLY: Yeah, they get mocked.

GROSS: ... because they can't face your tough questions. And to think that you couldn't stand up to my slightly...

O'REILLY: I stood up to you.

GROSS: ... all five feet of me...

O'REILLY: Believe me, I stood up to you for 50 minutes. But here's, here's what you did wrong...

GROSS: ... you didn't even want to answer the questions.

O'REILLY: No, I'm not going to...

GROSS: You ended the interview and you walked out.

O'REILLY: ... look, you piled on defamation, after defamation, after defamation. Nobody would sit through that.

GROSS: No, I didn't, Bill.

O'REILLY: Yes, you did. Look...

GROSS: You know what I did? I quoted what — I quoted what...

O'REILLY: You quoted what a smear-meister said, a guy who's been so discredited, he couldn't get any more discredited. And if you don't believe...

GROSS: That's not the case.

O'REILLY: Yes, it is. Would you like to bet me $10,000 that his allegations...

GROSS: I'm not the betting kind.

O'REILLY: Yeah. Well, you're going to have to stand up now. His allegation that I wasn't raised where I was raised. I've got $10,000 right here that says that's...

GROSS: But Bill, I had you on to give your point of view.

O'REILLY: No, you had me on to run by his defamatory charges. You didn't do your own investigation.

GROSS: Of course not. I read a couple of quotes from his book and I asked you to give your point of view of what you did. And you know what?

O'REILLY: For 50 minutes, you read his book and every other critic against me and said, "What about the..."

It would be like me saying this...

GROSS: It wasn't that way at all.

O'REILLY: "Hey, Terry, why did you commit this crime? Hey, Terry, why did that person say something bad about you?"

That's not fair. Go ahead.

GROSS: OK. What you're doing right now in just kind of saying these things to me is what I didn't do when you were on my show. I read a few quotes to you. I gave you a chance to say what you wanted to say. You would have had even more time to say more than that, except that you left before the interview was over.

O'REILLY: Terry, these were, "Do you beat your wife" questions.

GROSS: No, they weren't.

O'REILLY: Well, the ombudsman says they were.

GROSS: Well, I disagree. That's not exactly what he said.

O'REILLY: You want me to quote it? It's pretty bad.

GROSS: Go ahead.

O'REILLY: All right, "Halfway through the interview, it felt as though Terry Gross was indeed carrying Al Franken's water."

That's pretty embarrassing for an interview.

GROSS: I'm not embarrassed, because I disagree with him. I respect him.

O'REILLY: All right, you disagree with me and you disagree with him.

GROSS: Yeah. I think it's good to have a lively debate about that, but that doesn't mean I agree with him. I stand behind the interview, and so do thousands of people who have e-mailed us, so do three books that were published that describe the interview.

O'REILLY: That's fine. I mean, I'm sure you have your fans that think you're the best. And I appreciate you coming in.

GROSS: I appreciate you having me.

O'REILLY: A lot of people would not have come in, in your position. You came in, and you're a lot smaller than I am.

GROSS: That's right.

O'REILLY: And I appreciate you coming in, and the audience can make up its own mind. I hope you do very well with your book, Terry. Thanks for coming in.

GROSS: Thank you for having me.

O'REILLY: The name of the book is "All I Did Was Ask" And all I did was answer.

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